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Modern Bioenergetics: Part 2 of 3

Updated: Apr 4

Neuroscience, Relational Therapy, and Trauma

Understanding the relationships between the body and mind in current neuroscience theories teaches us that healing through the brain and body awareness accesses healing on a deeper and more permanent core level[1] (Resneck-Sannes, 2002).

Bioenergetics has always known how to work with the energies of the emotions in the body. It has evolved into a highly developed sophistication of the integration of the body and mind since Wilhelm Reich originated this approach in the 1920’s and when Alexander Lower founded Bioenergetics in 1950’s. Over the last 20 to 30 years, Bioenergetics has evolved with a more relational approach, beyond Freud’s original theories, integrating Object Relations, Self Psychology models, Relational Attachment theories, the Polyvagal Trauma theory and more. Modern Bioenergetics has synthesized into a deeper and more holistic approach that includes gentle and sensitive energetic protocols in working with shock trauma (accident, war, hospitalization) or relational/developmental trauma (childhood abuse, neglect, disruptions, etc.).

“In bioenergetic analysis, personality functions and therapeutic processes are understood in terms of the energetic processes of the body. This is the unique, distinguishing feature of bioenergetic analysis as a theory and as a therapy. Bioenergetic analysis is a deep analytic, self-oriented – relational –– body psychotherapy. It is not just “bodywork,” nor is it psychoanalysis with some body exercises as an added ingredient. The three dimensions of human reality, – psychic, relational, and bodily – are all recognized in the therapeutic situation and procedures….

Mobilization of the energetic processes of the body is the axis around which other dimensions of therapy articulate. Bioenergetic analysis is a system of therapy with a theory and a set of techniques arising from that theory. It can be applied in diverse clinical situations. It is not a set of techniques having a mechanical application. New developments and variations are possible within bioenergetic analysis, and therapeutic efficacy depends on the skill of the clinician.” (From the IIBA Website, Curriculum Content[2])

Bioenergetics is about how we can listen to the energy that is held or somatised as consciousness in our body. By developing curiosity and courage we can learn how to resolve the tensions in our body or stuck places in our thoughts and become freer to live a more authentic and thriving life. This allows us to become more resilient and cultivate a path that is more whole in who we are and more vibrant and joyous.

It doesn’t mean that we are always able to be in a positive and perfectly balanced state. It is about how we can embrace the dips and curves that life sometimes throws at you and we can include those darker times as part of how we dance through that line of balance. It is about how we become more adaptable and can shift and transform with greater ease and fluidity through the ups and downs.

Our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are the keys to listening to the messages that our bodies are constantly expressing. Learning how to read them begins with a heightened awareness of our body’s felt sense. As we practice with inner body awareness, we become more sensitized to how the energy is moving and shifting within to be able to interpret and respond to the wisdom that is a new language to learn.

To enjoy the higher frequencies of love, peace, excitement or joy, we need to be able to hold an accepting, compassionate and grounding perspective to embrace the lower, darker frequency emotions within us such as fear, grief, anger, contempt, disgust, or shame. These basic darker emotions have positive aspects designed to protect us if we can learn how to work with them in healthier ways. For many people, though, they are often very out of balance and one can get stuck or immobilized in one or another, or with complex combinations of them.

Modern Bioenergetics includes new methods of how to heal the way the trauma causes a freeze or immobility response in the body. Understanding how the nervous system works in a traumatized body is extremely helpful. The next post will explain about how working with awareness of the Polyvagal system can offer hope and significant core healing.

Bioenergetics and The Polyvagal System Part 2 of 3

Bioenergetics, Trauma and the Social Engagement System Part 3 of 3

[1] Resneck-Sannes, H. (2002) Psychobiology of Affects: Implications for a Somatic Psychotherapy. Clin. J. of IIBA, V13:111-122


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